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Dye Vs. Paint

I want to talk about paint. I love paint. I first learned about painting cloth from Mickey Lawler’s SkyDyes book. I bought the paint and colors she said to buy. That was Setacolor acrylic paints for textiles. I love them. I have since tried all the Jacquard paints and Golden Fluid Acrylics as well as screenprinting inks. I love to paint on pimatex cotton, a broadcloth with a high thread count. I think the paint looks better on this cloth. I love the ease of using paints. If I want to quickly change the appearance of cloth, I get out my stamps and paints and in a matter of minutes, I have the look I want. Paint dries fairly quickly. But a person can sink a lot of money into paints. The paint is also a surface treatment which does change the hand of the cloth some.

Now let’s talk about dyes. If you are a dyer of cloth, you already have what you need to make your own paint. You can make the paint very inexpensively. You are no longer working with pigments, as with paint, but now you are working with dye powder. There is a process with dye powder. If you are going to paint with dye powder, you first have to mix a chemical water that has a few different things in it. This is to help keep the dye paint wet enough for the batching time that is needed. Then you need to have a thickening agent to make your dye powder solution thick like paint. Since it is dye powder instead of pigment, there is a different consistency to it. If you are going to do layers of design, you will need to let each layer dry a bit, but not completely (remember,to batch, the dye needs to stay a bit damp), before continuing to add the next layer. (You could let each layer batch and dry between layers; this will take forever!) Dyes also love 70+ degree weather to batch in. Dyes do not change the hand of the fabric (this part I love). Oh yeah, one more thing: dye needs soda ash in order to make the chemical reaction. You must either soak the cloth in a soda ash solution, then air dry the cloth (start the day before you want to paint), or add it to your dye paint as you get ready to use it. This can be one long process!

So which is your favorite and why? I am basically thinking out loud here. I welcome anyone’s input if I have overlooked anything and I would like your take on painting with either medium.

soy wax screen design with ink